Tiger Woods is one of the most popular athletes on the planet. Until recently, he had a basically clean public image. Unfortunately, Tiger Woods is now in the midst of a fall (momentary setback?) that too many celebrities experience (and yes, he does qualify as a celebrity). What is happening? What are we to think of all this? Is it strange that someone as talented, rich, and popular as Tiger Woods would commit such foolish acts which threaten to ruin his personal life and career?
The purpose of this article is not to judge Tiger Woods, but simply to hold up what we can see about his life to the light of Scripture. Obviously, there are things in Tiger’s mind and heart which we cannot see. What is plain, though, is that some of these “private” things have spilled out into the public arena for all to see…and they’re not good. But let’s start with the good instead.
Tiger Woods: The Good
Tiger Woods’ athletic gifts became apparent from an early age. This gifting came from God, who is pleased to shower gifts on his people. God wants people to fully live out their humanity. Tiger has every right to seize the gifts he’s been given and to use them to live a fulfilling and successful life. From early childhood, Tiger discovered that he could play golf, a gift which he has taken and run with. He is currently ranked #1 in the world, and has won more championships than any current golfer. A human living out God’s gifts brings glory to God.
Do you see a man skillful in his work?
He will stand before kings;
he will not stand before obscure men.
(Proverbs 22:29 ESV)
Tiger Woods: The Bad
In 2009, the truth about Tiger Woods’ many extra-marital affairs became public knowledge. Whether his wife, Elin, knew about them before then or not, the whole situation had to be devastating to her. According to reports he had over 100 affairs.
Many have a view of the Bible that its only purpose is to ruin our fun. But there is a reason the Bible contains warnings against adultery. The reason is that God actually cares for us! He loves people enough to warn them against doing things that will damage their own lives as well as the lives of others. Tiger did not heed the warnings and is now paying the consequences. His image was severely tarnished, and his wife is reportedly seeking divorce. This will undoubtedly negatively affect their children as well.
And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away,
(Deuteronomy 17:17 ESV)
Tiger grew up Buddhist, and has apparently strayed from Buddhism’s moral teachings. He had this to say: “Buddhism teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.” The advantage of Christianity is that through trust in Jesus Christ, God gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us and help us overcome sin in our lives. This is a slow gradual process which lasts our entire lives. Buddhism is counting on us to simply rely on our own strength and determination. In my humble opinion, this does not work!
When someone reaches a position of extreme power and wealth, it is simply too much temptation for any mere mortal to resist without the supernatural help of a loving God. Ever noticed how many celebrities have total meltdowns? The Biblical King Solomon ran the gamut of life, and reached some instrconclusions:
And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 ESV)
Tiger Woods: The Ugly
The ugly? Tiger’s latest golf performance! Borrowing this quote from Wikipedia:
“Woods finished in 18-over par tying for 78th place (second-to-last place) in the Bridgestone Invitational on August 8. Woods posted his worst four-round result as a professional golfer.”
I think it’s fair to conclude that Tiger Woods’ recent personal problems have adversely affected his game. Will he climb back to the top? In all likelihood, probably. But who knows? Recent events could seriously impact the rest of his career.
Do not give your strength to women,
your ways to those who destroy kings.
(Proverbs 31:3 ESV)
In conclusion, should we be surprised that such an icon as Tiger Woods has had a fall? Tiger’s experience indeed confirms the Bible’s warnings and admonitions. But at a deeper level, Tiger Woods’ story fits within the paradigm of the overall Biblical story of redemption. In the beginning, mankind fell into sin and this fall has caused all subsequent generations to fall. At one level, each and every individual falls. I’m including myself, so I’m not just picking on Tiger! Tiger fell because humans fall. It is incumbent on each one of us to depend on God.
God has provided a way to restore our fallen condition. Because of God’s great love and care, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. Christ enables us live out true humanity to its fullest. The Holy Spirit helps us to obey God’s commands, which are given for our good and produce healthy, meaningful, and productive lives. I close here with an extended passage from Proverbs chapter 5:
 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD,
and he ponders all his paths.
 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
 He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.
(Proverbs 5 ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), Crossway, 2001.